Wednesday, February 17, 2010
There and back again - notes from the northern slog
And while it may have not had a big payoff, I did get to meet some very memorable people. That is probably the best part of my job. I like to engage people. If I didn't I would probably be content to merely play the auction game or throw things up on Ebay. And a large antique show like Hillsborough is a perfect alembic to mix with interesting folks, dealers and customers alike. Even met a bookie.
I arrived at the show having crashed at Cam and Birgit's pad in Salinas the night before where they concocted some of their cutting edge culinary fare. They have been hunting wild mushrooms lately and made an excellent soup. Along with that we had vietnamese sandwiches on homemade bread and vegetables from their garden.
I won't bore you to death with a blow by blow. I bought a nice painting by an artist best known for having his works in mortuaries and old folks' homes. Found a nice set of modern sterling flatware. Sold a painting or two. The pricier one was interesting. The woman said that she really shouldn't buy the canvas because her niece was getting foreclosed on and needed her help. Then she pulled out her checkbook and said what the hell, 4200 bucks wasn't going to save the kid anyway. I grimaced but took the money.
The consumer base at the shows is showing its age as are we dealers.
Very few clients seemingly under thirty. Of course, the Blue Heron has a theory, which I have probably previously offered up. Robert's dictum says that we reject the art of our parents and embrace the art of our grandparents. The great warm ambience of the twenties and thirties has now been rejected for the plastic and cheap mass market humdrum of the sixties and seventies. The warmth of mother's breast has been overtaken by the reassuring synthetic smell of the plastic bottle and attendant biphenyl pacifier.
A thirtysomething cohort showed me pictures of his new house the other day. He pointed with pride to the Howard Johnson's style orange front door, with its horrid mass market stamped lion hardware, and the hideous but outre authentic brass pulls in the kitchen which match the pulls I use to have in the double wide I unfortunately used to inhabit with wifey number one. The indians had a saying that where a man first places his feet (moccasins?) will be his place forever and the reality is that whatever epoch you stepped onto this globe for this great adventure we call life gives you that same feeling of reassurance. Kind of like Stockholm Syndrome I guess, yeah - its a jail cell, but it's my jail cell godamnit and I feel comfortable here. So there is a sea change in taste. Wood is out, big paper lanterns and white shag and Johnny Walker coke trays and badly constructed veneered furniture are in.
I didn't really know what to tell my friend, since there really is no right answer but suggested he pay attention to good construction and materials. Who the hell knows what will stand the test of time? My parents' generation liked victorian and eastlake and that style set is largely dead in the water as well. Things come back around cyclically eventually with a slightly different twist. But one thing no house should be without is a large stuffed wild boar, that goes without saying.
I did, as I said, meet some really neat people. The first guy that pops into my head is the security guard, Bosco. Bosco is a handsome man from Africa. I asked him if he was from Uganda and he stared at me suspiciously, being only the second person ever to deduce his accent. I had dinner with a prominent Ugandan coffee exporter last year and it's not so hard. But he was amazed.
radio station and dreams of going back and helping improve his country, probably by running for political office. I would not bet against him. A brilliant guy but young. Married to a Yale student. We were talking about Africa and I mentioned South Africa's Zuma getting caught with a love child from a mistress who was not one of his many legal wives but Bosco shook his finger at me and said it was appropriate behavior for an african male. Viva la difference.
Met a really neat artist as well who was 90 years old. Mrs. E was a lady from Philly married to a prominent Pennsylvania artist. She was the child model for Giuseppe Donato's epic winged justice at the
A Polish guy who I had mistakenly engaged a few years ago that wanted to give me a lecture on why the jews in Poland who got whacked had it coming because a) they kept to themselves, b) were communists, in league with the Russians, c)inhospitable guests, came by and talked to me about Babel and wants to send me some material from a Polish perspective. It was a little tedious. My friend Byron once told me that I shouldn't go around fighting my grandfather's battles.
I was in a mild kerfuffle with an Iranian couple. I was sussing them out regarding the recent hangings of dissidents and the crackdown on the opposition in Persi and they turned out to be loyal Achmedinijad supporters who blamed everything on Israel. I tried to imagine the woman surrendering her american freedom and donning a bhurka. When I brought up Hama, Black September and the kurdish genocide, they were pretty silent. Of course they didn't hate jews only zionists, people have always lived so well together. The real jews, not the pretenders from europe. I decided to save my breath.
Hardly went out to eat. Best thing I had was Chicken pot pie soup from the concession at the show, believe it or not. Went into the city once and got hammered with Dave and Amy. Whiteknuckled like Mr. Magoo on the way back. Ate breakfast every day at the wonderful Christie's in Burlingame, a place run by a trio of Palestinian sisters. Fantastic small town cafe.
Not much else - watched the stupid olympic opener. A flabby three hours of bad native american dancing and technical difficulty. Had a great time as always with my buddy Cam. Didn't drink.
Met a friend who is getting nastily aced out of a 40 year multimillion dollar gig and we discussed going to the mattress rooms and triangulation concepts in game theory. Suggested he watch the first two parts of the Godfather a couple times. Tell Mike it was only business, as Tessio once said. Best of luck, Pal.
Have taken a little shit for my valentine's to the missus. A buddy of mine suggested that I had broke some guy code for being so schmaltzy. Also thought I must have f*cked up in a big way. Had to publicly fall on my sword. No, just being my normal sweet self, sorry fellows....